17th ÉCU
The European Independent Film Festival 2022 

8th - 10th April 2022 
Interview

Sascha Vernik 
Losing It
Section: European Animated Film
ecufilmfestival.com

After losing the tool he relies on most, a fraud information worker decides to go back in time to prevent it.

 

Hey Sascha, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

 

Thanks for having me. I became a twin dad shortly before the pandemic hit and worked on Losing It, next to my freelance gigs.

It was by far the busiest time of my life. Curiously, while it was a real challenge making all ends meet I’ve found a fresh sense of focus, enabling me to push through producing Losing It the way I hoped I would.

 

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?

 

In the last couple of years I’ve increasingly been identifying myself as a student. It‘s overwhelming to me how much there is to learn and soak up. I can‘t keep up with the amount of things I want to incorporate into my work. You could say that I‘m inspired.

 

Congratulations on having Losing It part of the 17th ÉCU Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be screening your film in Paris?

 

Thanks a lot. Of course it’s a great feeling getting recognised for your original work.

 

Can you tell me how Losing It came about, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay and what was the message you wanted to convey with this film?

 

The idea for "Losing It" has been with me in one way or another for over a decade. Initially, I wanted to find an approach to tell a complicated story in a short film format, almost like a riddle. It took many years of trial and error to arrive at the final form. It was a struggle really, for most of the time. I’ve discarded the project twice. In 2018 during a storyboarding gig on a feature film I was with the director dissecting the screenplay looking for better solutions. Following that I had the epiphany of how I would solve "Losing It": I had to actively look for the problems. It was that easy. Once I had rewritten the thing it practically animated itself.

 

It‘s a story about a struggling, delusional character and the film reads like that, too: it‘s a puzzle, in a way. Reality really lies in the eyes of the beholder.

losing it film poster animation.jpg

When working on a film like this how close do you like to keep to your script once you start filming, do you allow yourself and your actors much flexibility?

 

As this is an animated film the process is somewhat different than that of a live action film. The editing comes first. So right from the get-go I was experimenting with story beats and pacing. The voice actors have shaped the film substantially, adding life to the characters. There was quite a bit of improvisation as well. The whole process afterward went relatively straight forward, although I did have one major change in the story in the middle of production. Fortunately, I could count on many friends and colleagues acting as my test audience along the way. They have contributed many great ideas and brought issues to my eyes that I wouldn‘t have been aware of otherwise.

What has been the biggest challenge you've faced bringing Losing It to life and looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

 

The biggest challenge was the scope of the project.

 

I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently, as I tried to stay true to myself with this one and change things as I saw fit.

 

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

 

It was fascinating for me to be able to bring drawings to life by animating them. It was a fascination to create a world that the viewer can be part of, for a little while. You could say it was a sort of escapism, initially. Later, it became more than that - I see film as a very powerful medium to share experiences, even though those experiences aren’t based in reality per se. The best thing is if those experiences can enrich your life in some way or form.

 

How different was your approach to Losing It compared to your previous short Embracing Lovers?

 

"Embracing Lovers" from 2014 is a one minute animated short loosely based on the concept of my uni diploma painting series wherein famous, formerly two dimensional paintings representing our conceived reality were being seen from another angle, exposing hidden elements to the scene, and thus, figuratively, our world. In the short animated film, we dive into a painting of Egon Schiele's stylised self depiction as it comes to life. The link to "Losing It" would be the depiction or perception of reality.

 

What was the experience like working on Hologram for the King?

 

I had worked on some shots of an animated dream sequence of Tom Hanks’ character in the beginning of the movie. I was tasked by the Austrian animation studio Neuer Österreichischer Trickfilm who were working with Tom Tykwer, the director of the film. It was a great learning experience!

 

Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the stories they want to tell?

 

Absolutely. Film as a medium is still pretty young. It‘s exciting to be able to cross-reference other films and create something new with a twist. It‘s about creating moulds and breaking them, just like in any other art-form. It‘s bound to be evolving.

"Later, it became more than that - I see film as a very powerful medium to share experiences, even though those experiences aren’t based in reality per se."

For anyone out there thinking about getting into filmmaking do you have any tips or advice you would offer them? 

 

I don‘t particularly see myself as someone who should be dishing out advice on that subject, as I basically just follow my own voice and views resulting in somewhat stubborn films (so far). This way of working may prove to be the right one in hindsight, when it may have found an audience. Until then, it remains a risky indulgence.

 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Losing It?

 

I hope that the audience will be willing to go on a ride with Alex Brotzky and decipher what has actually happened in his world.